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How to clean a transceiver array face

27 October 2022

This article shows you how to clean a transceiver array that is covered in marine growth or has been over-sprayed with anti-fouling coatings.

A transceiver face with typical biofouling:

A transceiver face with typical paint overspray:


Biofouling in particular can cause degradation in positioning performance, as it will alter the way in which acoustic waves propagate across the face of the array.

Paint Contamination

Paint contamination on the front face of the array could possibly cause significant life reduction due to incompatibility between the chemical composition of the paint and the array face material.

In both cases above it is prudent to remove the unwanted materials as quickly as possible.

Cleaning Procedure

1. Wash down the transceiver and array face with clean water and remove any loose biofouling or debris.

2. Use a plastic scraper to remove stubbornly attached marine life such as barnacles, keeping the motion of the scraper flat across the array surface. The array face does not have to be perfectly smooth when the process is finished. Sometimes it is more prudent to leave small pieces of very well attached biofouling in place (e.g. the rim of a limpet shell) and so avoid damaging the array.
Note: Do not use any form of scraper that could cause deep scratches to the array face.

3. After the worst of the biofouling has been removed, lightly hand sand the face with abrasive paper such as “wet and dry” to remove the final signs of biofouling or anti fouling paint coating. Use a grade equivalent to 240 grit with lots of clean water to keep the process wet and ensure that the sanding is carried out evenly across the whole face of the array.

4. To complete the cleaning process, lightly wipe the surface of the array using an alcohol wipe to remove any oil or grease residues.

5. Finally, carefully examine the array face for damage, such as small cracks which typically occur around the edge of where the barnacles have been attached. If there are any defects deeper than 1 mm or you have any doubts about damage to the array face, take some photographs and send them to for further advice.

Remember, the transceiver should always be fully immersed in water in the sea chest, so after closing the sea chest door, remember to flood the sea chest by opening the upper sea chest ball valve and vent the air.

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